As a Schenectady County Surrogate Court judge, Barry Kramer makes tough decisions all the time.
But the 66-year-old Linton High School and New York University graduate admitted he wanted no part of choosing the top player from the inaugural class of the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame.
An overflow crowd was on hand Sunday at the Terrace Restaurant to honor the first induction class, and Kramer was picked as the premier area player over the last 50 years.
“Unbelievable,” said Kramer when asked how it felt to be chosen so high on the impressive list of elite players. “Who’s to say who is the best player? There are guys like Sam Perkins, Ticky Burden and Greg Koubek who could just as easily have been picked No. 1. At age 66, I’m just happy that people still remember me.”
Kramer, a 1960 Linton graduate, played on two Section II championship teams and was a Parade Magazine All-American. He scored 1,003 points in his scholastic career, and his teams posted a 33-1 record over his junior and senior seasons.
“It’s hard to say who was the best player I ever played against, because there were so many,” Kramer said. “I do remember that Bill Kirvin was a tough player for Mont Pleasant, and Joe Geiger was a
really good player for Catholic Central. Not everyone remembers him, but Dave Santos of Amsterdam was also a very good player at that time.
“Back then, the suburban schools were just starting out, and it was the city schools, Nott Terrace, Linton and Mont Pleasant, that had all the good players. It was a different era back then. The Linton-Mont Pleasant games were the best rivalry around.”
Kramer said that at as a 6-foot-4 guard/forward, he played several roles in high school.
“I played a lot with my back to the basket. I was both an inside and an outside player. I could shoot, but not tremendously well,” he said. “I could make jumpers from 15 to 20 feet.”
Kramer, who also set the Section II high jump record at 6-4 in 1960, excelled at NYU, where he was an Associated Press All-American in 1963 and played in two NCAA tournaments. He averaged 28.3 points per game — second in the nation — and scored 42 points against Illinois in the 1962 ECAC Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.
The NYU Athletic Hall of Fame member was chosen by the San Francisco Warriors with the sixth pick in the first round of the 1964 NBA draft. He averaged 3.6 points per game for both the Warriors and the New York Knicks in the 1964-65 season, and later averaged 3.9 ppg for the New York Nets of the ABA in 1969-70.
“I got to play with two of the best big men around, Wilt Chamberlain in San Francisco and Willis Reed in New York. It was thrilling,” Kramer recalled.
A star on numerous area semi-pro teams after concluding his NBA career, Kramer was a 1968 graduate of Albany Law School, and was inducted into the Schenectady School District Hall of Fame.
“I’m extremely honored to be chosen for this Hall of Fame,” he said.
Area investment counselor Rene LeRoux headed the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame committee, with help from Bob Pezzano, Mike Lilac, Jim Hart and Dominick Reo.
“There’s a lot of nostalgia and plenty of memories on a night like this,” said Pezzano, who also runs the Schenectady City School District Hall of Fame. “Rene came to me and asked me to help out on the Schenectady end. About one-third of the first induction class is from the Schenectady area.”
Lilac, the Section II basketball chairman, said the inaugural inductee class is a solid one.
“There are probably 35 obvious ones, and the next 15 are up for debate. They deserve to be there, but everyone has an opinion,” he said. “There’s room for argument, but I think this will grow in the upcoming years, and it will get better and better.”
Lilac (Stillwater), Joe Loudis (Mechanicville), George Mardigan (Watervliet), Paul Lyons (Albany), John Traver (Greenwich), Jim Zullo (Shenendehowa) and Don Landrio (Gloversville) were inducted into the coaches’ category, along with Sig Makofski, who coached his Schenectady and Mont Pleasant teams to a 461-35 record from 1926-1951.
Pat Riley, Sid Edwards, Bob DeLuca, Dave Modest, Gary Przybylo and Mike Catino of Linton; Jim Tedisco, Dick Grubar, Karl Bankowski and Antoni Wyche of Bishop Gibbons; Kirvin and, Brendan Mitchell of Mont Pleasant; and Jason McKreith, Willie Deane, Rashaun Freeman and James Thomas of Schenectady are among the inductees in the players’ division.
Area referees John Cahill and Jim Burr were also inducted.
Players were chosen for their full body of work, from high school through college and even in pro ball.
The induction class included women only as daughters to other players or coaches. There will be a separate class for females in the next induction class.
Guest speakers included Syracuse University head coach Jim Boeheim and columnist Peter Vecsey of the New York Post.
Karl Bankowski (Bishop Gibbons, Utah), Talor Battle (Bishop Maginn, Penn State), Nate Bland (Philip Schuyler, Centenary), Ticky Burden (Philip Schuyler, Utah), Tim Cain (Shaker, Manhattan), Mike Catino (Linton, Siena), Lionel Chalmers (Albany, Bishop Gibbons, Xavier), Scott Cherry (Saratoga Catholic, North Carolina), Chris Ciaccio (Gloversville, Georgia), Willie Deane (Schenectady, Boston College, Purdue), Bob DeLuca (Linton, Cornell), Jason DeLuca (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Saint Rose), John DiBiase (Watervliet, New Mexico State), Sid Edwards (Linton, Houston), Chris Fagan (Catholic Central, Colgate), Kate Fagan (Niskayuna, Colorado), Craig Forth (Columbia, Syracuse, Jimmer Fredette (Glens Falls, BYU), Rashaun Freeman (Schenectady, UMass), Joe Geiger (Catholic Central, Xavier), Sonny Gooden (Saratoga, Broome Tech), Joe Greco (Whitehall, Vermont), Dick Grubar (Bishop Gibbons, North Carolina), Gary Holle (Catholic Central, Siena), Greg Holle (CBA, TCU), Todd Holloway (CBA, Texas A&M), Milton Horne (Philip Schuyler, Centenary, New Mexico), Skeeter Horne (Philip Schuyler, Centenary), Billy Kalbaugh (Catholic Central, St. Bonaventure), Bill Kirvin (Mont Pleasant, Xavier). Carrie Kirvin (Shenendehowa, Vermont), Tim Kolodziej (Amsterdam, Duke), Barry Kramer (Linton, NYU), Elander Lewis (Albany, St. John’s, VCU), Leo McDermott (St. Columba’s, Xavier), Kevin McGraw (CBA, Siena), Jason McKreith (Schenectady, Rice), Brendan Mitchell (Mont Pleasant, Potsdam), Dave Modest (Linton, Providence), Mark Mondoux (Stillwater, Saint Rose), Jon Mueller (Stillwater, Eckerd), Calvin Nicholson (Philip Schuyler, New Mexico), Brendan O’Sullivan (Shenendehowa, Dartmouth), Sam Perkins (Shaker, North Carolina), Rosey Phillips (Troy), Frank Pinchback (CBA, Xavier), Warren Prehmus (Scotia-Glenville, Vermont), Gary Przybylo (Linton, Michigan State), Joe Quigley (Albany, Arizona State), Armand Reo (Catholic Central, Notre Dame), Pat Riley (Linton, Kentucky), Caryn Schoff (St. Johnsville, Syracuse), Phil Schoff (St. Johnsville, Syracuse), Wendi Schoff (St. Johnsville, William & Mary), Larry Sheffield (LaSalle, Notre Dame), Leon Simon (LaSalle, Santa Fe), Eric Stover (Schuylerville, St. Bonaventure), Jim Tedisco (Bishop Gibbons, Union), James Thomas (Schenectady, Texas), Jim Town (Glens Falls, Massachusetts), Tony Traver (Greenwich, William & Mary), Jim Taynham (Philip Schuyler, ABC), Jack Washington (Linton, Dayton), Bill Williams (LaSalle, St. Joseph’s), Antoni Wyche (Bishop Gibbons, Notre Dame).
Don Landrio (Gloversville), Mike Lilac (Stillwater), Joe Loudis (Mechanicville), Paul Lyons (Albany), Sig Makofski (Schenectady, George Mardigan (Watervliet), John Traver (Greenwich), Jim Zullo (Shenendehowa).
Jim Burr, John Cahill.